The mutual economic cooperation between Tolko and Splatsin, the southern-most community of the 17 that make up the Secwepemc Nation, has taken an advanced step forward.
A Letter of Intent (LOI) was signed in November between the two, a commitment to seek out business, employment and joint venture opportunities that can lead to long-term sustainable jobs.
“Working with the Splatsin has been a very positive experience,” said Brad Thorlakson, president and CEO of Tolko Industries. “Over the past eight years, through open dialogue, we have worked together on land management issues, forest administration areas, and procurement opportunities.
“This LOI further strengthens our relationship. As a company, we believe partnerships such as this are the way of the future and we look forward to working with Splatsin and with other indigenous communities in the areas where we operate.”
Splatsin is the southern-most community of the 17 that make up the Secwepemc Nation. There are three reserves located in Salmon River, Enderby and Sicamous with more than 900 members.
More than half the membership lives off-reserve. The Splatsin have a long history in the forest industry. Splatsin men were instrumental in the Shuswap River log drives that occurred every year.
“The LOI with Tolko and Splatsin moves us towards a model of joint planning and management of a portion of our territory,” added Kukpi7 Chief Wayne Christian. “Our ancestral leaders in 1910 said, ‘These people wish to be partners with us in our country. We must, therefore, be the same as brothers to them, and live as one family. We will share equally in everything—half and half—in land, water, and timber, etc. What is ours will be theirs, and what is theirs will be ours. We will help each other to be great and good.’”
Splatsin sees this partnership with Tolko as bringing to life these words of its ancestral leaders.
Barry Gladders, Tolko’s general manager of B.C. woodlands, says building partnerships with indigenous communities that are based on collaboration and trust is an important element of Tolko’s business model.
“We are committed to identifying opportunities that benefit Tolko and indigenous communities. This LOI is an example of how we are putting that commitment to work and seeing positive results,” Gladders said.
He points out that this LOI is the result of the longstanding effort between Tolko and Splatsin.
“Tolko and Splatsin have been working together since 2008 to manage issues and develop opportunities. Ongoing discussions led to the concept of a Cooperative Working Protocol (CWP) between the parties,” Gladders said.
“The CWP was signed in 2012 to set out a framework for the parties to build a relationship, deal with issues that arise, and pursue opportunities of mutual interest. The CWP was very successful and the resulting relationship has provided a platform to increase certainty on access to fiber for both parties and laid the foundation for this LOI.”
With the LOI signed, now the work begins, Gladders added.
“Over the next months, we’ll work together to set out a clear vision for the work, secure funding for the various aspects of the LOI, establish the joint administration area and complete the timber supply analysis. We’re looking forward to getting down to work, growing the partnership and realizing the benefits envisioned by Splatsin and Tolko Industries.”